How To Get The Most Out of Your Skincare (a basic guide)

Lotions, potions, oils and serums can be costly, and it takes a considerable amount of time and commitment to make them a part of your twice daily routine. It would suck if you were losing benefits from putting them on in the wrong order.

Today we will talk about how get the most out of your skincare regimen.

If you thought that simply piling your skincare products on all willy-nilly get’s the job done, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, the order in which you layer your skincare products makes a big difference on how well they work.

What Exactly Is Layering?

We know much more about the skin now and have found that layering, or using several products together is like putting your skincare on turbo.

AND if your applying  your exfoliators, antioxidants, retinoid, exfoliators, peptides, hydrators…, layering means putting them on in the order that will allow them to seep into your skin.

How To Layer Your Skincare

The order in which you layer your products depends on viscosity. If you apply your thick cream first, everything you apply after has trouble getting into your skin. You always want to go from thinner to thickest.

  1. Cleanser
  2. Toner
  3. Mist
  4. Serum
  5. Concentrate aka Ampoule (optional)
  6. Oil
  7. Moisturizers & Cream 
  8. Sunscreen

I’m not saying that you need to use 8 different products every day but whatever you do use should be applied in that order.

After you cleans you’re skin apply your toner.

Start With Toner

Toners counteract all of the chlorine and mineral deposits found in our tap water that can dry your skin also make it harder for your products to absorb. (think about your cloudy shower door – that’s the stuff)

There are three main kinds.

Astrigents (best for oily skin)

Astringents are usually based from witch hazel, alcohol or acids that help reduce oil production. Do not use these if you have dry skin.

I have combination skin and it causes dryness in the creases of my nose and chin. I stay away from these unless I’m having a breakout and still I’m very careful to limit it to that area only.

Clarifiers (for combo skin)

Clarifiers are glycerin (or glycerin and water) based formulas that can contain fragrant extracts like citrus fruits or rose water. Glycerin is hydrating since it’s a humectant which draws water from the air into the skin.

Just be careful with the ones that smell too good as they can irritate your skin which would defeat the purpose.

Water-Based (for every skin) 🙂

Epicuren Skin Conditioner Enzyme Toner

Water-based toners are usually loaded with antioxidants and other skin repairing substances. I highly recommend the Epicuren Skin Conditioner Enzyme Toner. It is the only toner I can stick with because it doesn’t dry my skin and feels super light, fresh, and clean.

After your toner you have cleared the way for your mists (refreshing), serums, concentrates, and lotions. Mists feel really good and can contain ingredients like collagen, or cucumber, but I only do this because it feels refreshing.

After mists comes the serums.

Next Apply Your Serums

Serums come after your toner but before thicker products such as concentrates and moisturizing creams.

Serums enable you to intensify the strength of your skincare regimen as they are formulated at a higher concentration of active ingredients and are much lighter than a moisturizer.

hyaluronic serum consistency

Serums can range from a watery to a light viscous consistency

There are serums for every skincare issue out there and you don’t need to limit yourself to just one. There are many to choose from but here are a few:

  • Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) – These include glycolic, lactic, tartaric, malic and citric acids and help with fine lines and hyperpigmentation (those wretched age spots as an example). Can cause minor irritation and sun sensitivity so ease your skin into this one.
  • Beta-Hydroxy Acids (Salicylic Acids) – Exfoliates skin and can improve texture and uneven pigmentation. These can be less irritating than the AHAs and have similar results although they are not known to treat the fine lines.
  • Hydroquinone – This is excellent for lightening hyperpigmented skin like melasma and age spots.
  • Kojic Acid – A great alternative to hydroquinone if you find that it is too harsh on your skin.
  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid – An antioxidant that diminishes fine lines and boosts other antioxidants in your skin to boot. Also, it can enter all parts of a skin cell so can provide more protection from free radicals that can damage your skin.
  • Vitamin C – Brightens every skin type. It helps minimize fine lines, wrinkles and acne scarring. It is the only antioxidant that is proven to help with the production of collagen which is necessary for the skin to stay tight and youthful.

teeny heartTIP: Vitamin C and E used together is a force against free radicals. Try the Dr. Brandt Lineless Vitamin C Serum that combines C and E with grapeseed oil. LOVE it!

  • Hyaluronic Acid (like the Cosmedica shown above) Used to plump up wrinkly skin. It is often used with Vitamin C to help it penetrate deeper into the skin.
  • Copper Peptide -Helps firm, smooth and soften the skin by promoting the production of collagen and elastin which are the two main components of tight skin. LOVE this! I’ve been using NCN Pro Skin Care Copper Peptide for years.
  • Arigireline – Produces a mild Botox-like effect helping to keep your muscles from causing wrinkles.
  • Ibedenone – Reduces sun damage and safeguards skin cells from free radicals

teeny heartYou can use several serums in your skin care regimen. Apply the thinnest one, let it dry, then applythe next. Just make sure to apply from thinnest to thickest and your golden!


After serums come the concentrates which are basically like serums but more potent. Most ingredients you find in serums you can find in a concentrate.  After your concentrate come the moisturizers.

Last Apply Your Creamy Moisturizers

Moisturizer is important to any layering routine as it locks in the serums and concentrates (aka ampoules) making them more effective. Choose your moisturizer according to your skin type.

Here are my current faves.

In the morning:

In the morning I first apply my Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunblock as it’s thin and I can’t afford my thicker creamy things like mineral makeup, etc, blocking the way.

neutrogena ultra sheer

I love my Neutrogena!

In the winter, when my skin gets a little dryer I rotate between the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 100 and the Neutrogena Age Shield Face Broad Spectrum SPF 110 because they’re a little thicker and can give my skin some moisture.

Exuviance Sheer Daily Protector SPF 55

Next, I always put on a light tinted moisturizer to add a glow to my skin for the rest of my day. Right now I love the Exuviance Sheer Daily Protector SPF50. You can read more about this amazing product on my review.

At night:

For my nighttime moisturizer, I first layer those with action ingredients like alguronic acid, but also that have a lighter consistency than the creamy, creamy, final layer night cream that I look forward to at the end of the night.

I am currently rotating between Algenist with Alguronic Acid Regenerative Anti-Aging Moisturizer and Hope in a Jar Night by Philosophy. I’ve also used the Algenist Overnight Restorative Cream which I love too!

algenist with alguronic acid and hope in a jar by philosophy

The first moisturizers in my nighttime regimen

The second, and final, moisturizer I use at night is always a thick and creamy one. As we get older we notice our skin changing textures and getting drier so thick and creamy night cream is the way to go.

I’m currently using the Lancome Renergie Lift Multi-Action Night Cream and the Skyn Pure Cloud Cream.

Lancome Renergie Lift Multi-Action Night Cream & Skyn Pure Cloud Cream

Lancome Renergie Lift Multi-Action Night Cream & Skyn Pure Cloud Cream

I hope this was helpful for you!  Just remember, skincare is a science but it’s also an art. We all work with our own unique canvas so experiment to see what works best for you!

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